Still, Jennifer says her preps helped her family get through the initial aftermath. Because she’d stored about three days’ worth of food in each of the bedrooms in her house, they were able to get by until a friend in the States sent additional supplies. As month after month rolled on with no running water in the region, the rain-catching and filtration system she’d set up also proved life-saving — especially amid concerns about contaminated water on the island and the mainland’s notoriously slow-moving and inadequate relief efforts.
After 9/11, my dad filled a duffel bag with some energy bars, a couple gallons of water, some penicillin, and a map. Amid scaremongering headlines about imminent anthrax and “dirty bomb” attacks in the city, he wanted to have some supplies on hand in case we needed to get out of Brooklyn fast. Were he to assemble such a bag today, he’d likely stumble on a number of companies promising a more wholesale brand of disaster preparedness: a box full of shelf-stable freeze-dried meals, to be revived from their dessicated state with the addition of boiled water.